Observed temperature changes

Observed temperature changes

2015- Warmest Global Year on Record (since 1880) – Colors indicate temperature anomalies (NASA/NOAA; 20 January 2016). Earth has been in radiative imbalance since at least the 1970s. The oceans absorb most of this extra energy. Human activities substantially contributed to this increase in ocean heat content. Two millennia of mean surface temperatures according to different reconstructions from climate proxies, each smoothed on a decadal scale, with the instrumental temperature record overlaid in black. NOAA graph of Global Annual Temperature Anomalies 1950–2012, showing the El Niño Southern Oscillation

The global average (land and ocean) surface temperature shows a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C in the period 1880 to 2012, multiple independently produced datasets. Earth’s average surface temperature rose by 0.74±0.18 °C over the period 1906–2005. The rate of warming almost doubled for the last half of that period (0.13±0.03 °C per decade, versus 0.07±0.02 °C per decade). The average temperature of the lower troposphere has increased between 0.13 and 0.22 °C (0.23 and 0.40 °F) per decade since 1979, according to satellite temperature measurements. Climate proxies show the temperature to have been relatively stable over the one or two thousand years before 1850. But it has with regionally varying fluctuations such as the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.

The warming is evident in the instrumental temperature record. It is consistent with a wide range of observations, as documented by many independent scientific groups. Examples include sea level rise, widespread melting of snow and land ice. They have increased heat content of the oceans. They have also increased humidity, and the earlier timing of spring events, e.g., the flowering of plants. The probability that these changes could have occurred by chance is virtually zero. 

(Observed temperature changes) 


Temperature changes vary over the globe. Since 1979, land temperatures have increased about twice as fast as ocean temperatures (0.25 °C per decade against 0.13 °C per decade). Ocean temperatures increase more slowly than land temperatures because of the larger effective heat capacity of the oceans. The ocean also loses more heat by evaporation. Since the beginning of industrialization the temperature difference between the hemispheres has increased due to melting of sea ice and snow in the North. Average arctic temperatures have been increasing at almost twice the rate of the rest of the world in the past 100 years; however arctic temperatures are also highly variable.Although more greenhouse gases are emitted in the Northern than Southern Hemisphere this does not contribute to the difference in warming because the major greenhouse gases persist long enough to mix between hemispheres.

The thermal inertia of the oceans and slow responses of other indirect effects mean that climate can take centuries or longer to adjust to changes in forcing. Climate commitment studies indicate that even if greenhouse gases were stabilized at year 2000 levels. A further warming of about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) would still occur. Global temperature is subject to short-term fluctuations that overlay long-term trends and can temporarily mask them. The relative stability in surface temperature from 2002 to 2009. So, it  has been dubbed the global warming hiatus by the media and some scientists. It is consistent with such an episode. 2015 updates to account for differing methods of measuring ocean surface temperature measurements show a positive trend over the recent decade.

(Observed temperature changes)

Aren’t temperature changes natural?

Greenhouse effect

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